AKA A Backlog Diary: Part 33
Itís been a busy couple of weeks since my last update to you fine chaps and chapettes. On the last Backlog Diary update, I mentioned how Iíd finally got past a rather tricky boss fight on Chapter 12 (of 13) on Final Fantasy XIII. Well, I come to you now as someone with a great weight lifted from their shoulders, as I have now finished the game and cast it back upon the shelves from whence it came. But Iíll get to that later.
Alright. Letís get this out of the way. Alice: Madness Returns
on PC. Didnít finish it, because itís a crappy port of what could have been a good game. It gets a 1
for being a dreadful product. Anyone else had any luck with it on PC? Does it just hate AMD graphics cards? Basically, whenever the gooey doll monsters show up, the game lags up to unprecedented levels. Seriously? 5 frames per second? For shame EA. Patch this nonsense! Itís unplayable.
Alright, what else we got hereÖ ermÖ oooh, Ultimate Marvel Vs Capcom 3
. Very cool game, but I give up. Itís too hard, and I donít have the willpower, dedication or time to be considered a threat online. And thatís really what this game has been created for; beating the shit out of friends and strangers alike. And sure, I can knock fifty shades of grey out of someone sitting in the couch next to me, but online? Wow, these guys are scary. I sometimes wonder if the only games they own are this and Marvel Vs Capcom 2. ďNo time for Skyrim, Call of Duty or FIFA games, Iím going to be amazing with SentinalĒ.
So, after a disappointing Win/Lose ratio of 3:20, I hang up the towel, and the game goes back to the shelf alongside Soul Calibur V, awaiting the day that someone visits me again and we run out of things to talk about in our dull repetitive lives. The game is beautiful, treats its entire roster of characters with the utmost respect and love, leaving a game that the casual and the hardcore can enjoy, so long as the casual are not stupid enough to go online. It will hurt your pride. UMvC3 gets an 8
. I wouldnít recommend it for single player, as it suffers from Split/Second syndrome; that mother fucker is going to kick the shit out of you if it wants to.
And now, an unusual tangent to my usual playing habits. A puzzle game. Professor Layton and the Curious Village
suddenly caught my attention due to my love of Phoenix Wright and the incoming news that the two franchises may get a cross over which I am now praying to the Flying Spaghetti Monster makes it to European shores. If it doesnít, I might kick some livestock about, because I can now honestly say that I love these two franchises. Whilst Phoenix Wright is sometimes ďoverboard-crazhy-tchimes-Japanese-rikeĒ (a potentially offensive term which probably has a better shortened version, but nevertheless is the phrase I hear in my head in relation to this kind of thing), Professor Layton is much more grounded and universal (except for the part where it turns out everyone is robots, because of reasons). A cross over of the two would be a great experiment and certainly would be a day-one purchase for my dust-gathering 3DS.
But back to Curious Village; the game is pretty much 150 puzzles held together by a charming hand-drawn-esque backdrop, with charming characters trying to solve an overall mystery. Little details like customising the rooms of Layton and Luke in the inn, building a robot dog out of scavenged parts, and other meta-puzzles make for a very solid product, perfectly framed in a charming story about two puzzle enthusiasts out to find some treasure or something. The treasure turns out to be something else though, which ultimately begs the question; is it paedophilia or not?
But I digress. Level 5 could have just slammed some puzzles on a DS card like so many other developers, but instead set out to make something much more charming, likeable, and memorable. Iíll give it a 9
. It would be higher, but I did start hearing Lukeís voice in my head.
Next up, Tomb Raider: Underworld
. Itís seemingly impossible to play this without casting comparisons to the now vastly superior Uncharted series. Nathan Drake is more likeable than the bloodthirsty and seemingly reckless Lara Croft (even though Nate himself is guilty of just as many atrocities against the human race). The visuals are mostly kind of bland and uninspired in Tomb Raider, in contrast to Unchartedís rather fantastic range of locations, and it lacks the exciting set paces of Drakeís adventures. That said, I did enjoy the game, despite some rather annoying instances of Lara seemingly not able to make jumps that she looks like she should be able to do because of reasons. The motorbike sections donít really work in my opinion, as it feels more like youíre on a tricycle towing a fat man in a trailer. But, this aside, I would put Underworld on a par with Uncharted: Drakeís Fortune. It gets a 7
And yes, more tigers will get fucked up in this one.
Yesterday, I also finished Spec Ops: The Line
. It was, well, very interesting. I would describe it as a cross between the movie Platoon (for general message), Call of Duty: Black Opsís single player (for similar plot devices), Gears of War (for controls) and Journey (for locale and motives behind development. Itís a great game, but itís not the best third person shooter. The plot and the interesting gameplay mechanics brought on help carve something unique out of a rather over saturated genre. It doesnít handle as well as Gears of War in my opinion (cover mechanics are a bit odd, with separate buttons for vaulting and taking cover), but it more than makes up for it with well-grounded characters who find themselves in a world gone to hell, with the overall message of the gaming seeming to be ďYou just made Hell worseÖ good going son!Ē
Itís hard to summarize my feelings towards this game. I enjoyed playing it, and I respect its motives, but I think it could have gone a lot further to achieving its goal; make the player question their actions at the end. As it turns out, Iím one evil bastard of a player, but I wonít ruin it for you.
If you have a liking for third person shooters, then definitely go out and get this, but I donít know if I would recommend it to anyone who doesnít particularly like this genre based on story alone. It ticked a bunch of boxes for me personally, as I love games with plot, morals, violence etc. The characters are pretty convincing, prime amongst them the player character Captain Walker, played by Nolan Desmond Nathan The Prince North. Itís not quite on a par with Gears of War in terms of gameplay, but for its plot, itís worth a punt. I give it a 7
, in the hope that fellow C-Blog readers will eagerly try it, but with an air of caution in their stomachs, as it may not be fully fulfilling an experience for you.
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand finally! Final Fantasy XIII
is complete. Feels good to write that. Whatís strange is, it wasnít an overly difficult game; I beat the final three bosses with relative ease on the first attempt. Whatís odd is I got stuck on a boss creature called a Proudclad in the summer of 2010, and just didnít go back to the game for nearly two years. As such, the game has weighed heavily in the back of mind as something I really ought to get on with, and always appeared in my mind as a massive impenetrable barrier between me and the completion of this backlog. But, the barrier is destroyed, and I can now report to you in all honesty that I thoroughly enjoyed the game.
First point; Iím not a massive Final Fantasy fan. The only other game in the series I properly enjoyed (and completed fully) was Final Fantasy VIII, another one in the series which receives a fair share of dislike amongst its hardcore fans. With this in mind, I wasnít expecting the same things as existing fans; open world, cities etc. I knew pretty much what I was getting when I bought the game, and therefore didnít have any major expectations which could be dashed.
The visuals: Very good for a nearly three year old Xbox 360 game. One of the finest points though is artistic direction, the design of locales and monsters. Every screen of the game could be used as promotional art (except some of the blander areas on Pulse)
The Characters: Sure, Vanille does make a lot of sexual sighing noises, and Hope doesnít seem to have a penis for the first few chapters, and Snow is a moron, but they grow on you, and develop as the plot progresses. I managed to drop my overly Western view of the game and take it for what it was, and I really started to enjoy this aspect. The way Hope plans to kill Snow in revenge of his motherís death, the near suicide of Sazh (my favourite character FYI). It seems the characters take their cues not only from traditional Final Fantasy stock characters (Snow and Lightning are named as such because they come from a CloudÖ geddit?) but also were designed to appeal not just in the East, but also the West. It seems maybe they failed, due to all the negative opinions of the game, but hey, they won me over!
The plot: It was followable. I wasnít mad bat shit off the wall craziness that you might expect from a JRPG, although there were elements of this within. Six dudes and dudettes get cursed/blessed with magical powers and are told to fulfill their FalíCie masters wishes or turn into big crystal mantelpiece ornaments. It works.
The gameplay: Probably my favourite part. I know a lot of people felt it was just a case of surviving by using ďAuto BattleĒ constantly. But when you truly master the effectiveness of every role, study/Librascope every enemy and determine how to be their downfall, or simply try to figure out how best to attack a crowd of three different enemy types, it becomes a lot more tactical. This is the best turn-based combat system this generation. I know they might not gel with a lot of RPG fans round here, but for me, it worked. It was accessible, but had depth enough to require a learning curve, which if followed, could lead to utter domination of the latter enemies in the Tesseractís and Orphans Cradle.
So, in summary, I really liked a game that by general consensus was pretty bad. I donít get it! Sure, I gave up on it for a year and a half, but I donít think this was really the game fault. So, who also liked it? Who partially liked it? Who thinks Iím a prat for liking it? Who loathed it? Iíd like to see why peopleís views vary so differently from mine. Iím giving Final Fantasy XIII a 9
and there ainít nothiní you can do Ďbout it!
LOOK WHO CAME: